Monday, August 12, 2013

The Heart of Light.



The planetary interceptor shuddered as it broke through the atmosphere of the barren red planet. Captain Curt Conrad of the Galactic Space Patrol bit his lower lip and surveyed the rocky ground below with a steely gaze. Somewhere down there was the man he was sent to kill, somewhere down there was Doctor Marlon Cagliostro.

Eighteen months ago Cagliostro had lead a GSP research team to investigate the possible remains of an ancient extra-terrestrial civilisation in caverns beneath the surface of the planet Cadmeia XII. Initial reports from the team were promising, elements of the caverns did indeed seem show architectural intervention. In outlying areas of the cave complex there was evidence of forms shaped by the intent of an intellect that was not of identifiably human origins. Captain Conrad had been, for the first year, the Space Patrol overseer for the robotic security unit protecting the mission. During this time he had gotten to know the character and some of the mind of  Marlon Cagliostro. The brilliant scientist was obsessed with the notion of there existing somewhere in the universe the evidence of ancient alien cultures. His expectations were that such a culture, which would pre-date humanity by millennia, would be highly advanced and will have left behind in their archeological record wondrous technologies and perhaps even the means to diving the true nature of the universe itself.  Although not a man of science, Conrad recognised the zealot's passion in Cagliostro, the single-minded drive towards one goal, and as the investigation into the caverns of Cadmeia XII continued that passion turned into an obsession.

When contact was lost with the research team six weeks ago Captain Conrad, with his knowledge of both the archeological site and its genius team leader, was the first choice to fly to Cadmeia XII and investigate. A mission that took on a sense of grave urgency when, during the transit to Cadmiea XII, a distress signal was received from the planet. A junior member of the research science team had issued a frantic vid-message. She claimed that Cagliostro, upon finding a hidden chamber filled with arcane alien machinery had gone mad and murdered the replacement GSP overseer and assumed command of the robot security force and turned them against the other members of the research team. Curt Conrad did not know what he would be up against in the caverns beneath the arid planet only that his elite Galactic Space Patrol training was up to the challenge.

Laser beams flashed by the interceptor canopy from the first wave of Cagliostro's robotic defences. Captain Conrad expertly dodged the blasts and dived his space plane towards yawning mouth of the cave complex. Robot soldiers on metal gantries shouldered their laser rifles and fired volleys of destructive beams at the agile spacecraft. Captain Conrad deftly dodged the incoming blasts and locked the interceptor's auto-guidance system on the sturdy metal doors that secured the deeper archeological excavation.

The sleek planetary interceptor shot towards the doors on a blast of superheated jet flame. Conrad quickly punched a destruct sequence into the control panel and hit the ejector switch. Thrown free scant moments before the impact which burst through the steel doors Captain Conrad hit the ground running moving into a smooth flying kick at a robot sentry that loomed up before him. He picked up the fallen machines laser rifle and despatched three more of the cybernetic centurions rapid fire. More of the mechanoids poured in from side corridors as Conrad ran towards the deeper levels of the complex dispatching foes with a fluid blend of laser blasts and Galactic Space Patrol Kung Fu. He soon arrived at tunnels as yet undiscovered while he was part of the expedition team. Running on instinct and a data-map provided with the research tech's distress call Conrad quickly found the entrance to the chamber where Cagliostro had discovered the alien devices and the sight stopped him short.

At the centre of room Dr Marlon Cagliostro stood upon a raised platform clad in rough rags that had once been his GSP Science Corps uniform. His hair and eyes showing all the wild abandon of a true madman. Arranged in symmetrical lines around the platform were arcane machines covered in bizarre rotating hieroglyphics, all humming at strange and disconcerting frequencies. As Captain Curt Conrad stepped into that eldritch chamber Dr Caglisotro turned smoothly to face him.

"Captain Conrad, my old friend, it is so nice to see you at this, the moment of my apotheosis."

"You've gone too far, Marlon," Conrad spat back, "I'm here to stop you."

"Stop me?" Cagliostro said calmly, "I'm afraid it's too late for that, it's already happening. I am about to merge my consciousness with the cosmos that exists beyond all time and space and you, my dear Captain, are to be my witness."

Conrad went to raise his weapon and found himself seized my the powerful mechanical grip of two robot sentries.

The hum of the strange machines rose rapidly in pitch as the rotating hieroglyphs began to glow and throw of arcs of light that seemed to bend and gravitate towards the crazed scientist in the centre of the chamber.

"Cagliostro, no!" Captain Conrad bellowed as the humming machines began to scream.

A flash of light burst through the room and then it seemed as if Dr Cagliostro's very body was made out of light.

"Conrad!" the scientist yelled in response, his voice then suddenly changing, mellowing, "Oh wow, Conrad. Oh, oh Jeez, wow." He began laughing, "Oh man, this is pretty amazing. C'mon dude, sorry about being such a dick with the robots and stuff before, but, man, you gotta get up here and try this shit. Oh, oh wow..."


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